A few days ago a lady said "my husband is not a real firefighter, he's only a volunteer" As a vol firefighter I was realy ticked! but chose to keep my mouth shut! lol what are some of your thoughts on this statment, and how would handel it if it were said to you?


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Maybe by "my husband is not a real firefighter, he's only a volunteer", the lady simply meant her husband doesn't make his living putting out fires and/or he doesn't really put out many fires. No big deal.

You are either a firefighter or you are not... Regardless of whether you are paid, or volunteer your time, the risks are the same. Fire does not differentiate based on what your title is. I'm sure part of you wanted to say, lady... your an idiot, but the fact that you kept your mouth shut and opinions to yourself defined yourself as a professional firefighter.

Just like a doctor graduating from medical school, you can ask yourself what the difference is between the person that graduates at the top of the class with honors verses the person who barely makes it through... they are both called doctor. The same applies to firefighters. If you arrive on a fire truck, and dress like a firefighter, then chances are pretty good that the public is going to correctly identify you as a firefighter.

One woman's misinformed ideology of what constitutes a firefighter should be minimized in your mind. She obviously has a mindset in her own that's not connected to reality as we know it. We have even seen this mindset alive and well in the fire service. I call it management by perspective. It's all about how you see it.

My personal opinion on the question, is there a difference between paid and volunteer firefighters is that there is indeed a big difference setting the two apart. Individuals who work a career aside from the fire department are very different than paid full time career firefighters. The biggest difference is the commitment and level of dedication seen with volunteer firefighters. In most cases, and especially now in these dismal financial times, people manning fire engines are more motivated and have more heart for the job because they are doing it to protect their own community, not doing it for a paycheck. I have nothing but admiration for anyone who volunteers as a firefighter. 



I can forgive the public when they say something like that. But, when it is one of our own I have a huge issue. One of our new recruits mentioned that it was nice to have a class taught by a real fire fighter. The guy is career and also volunteers with us too, but 99% of the time the classes are only taught by the vollies. I can't wait to see this big mouth at our live fire exercise in two weeks, then hopefully he will understand there is no difference in what we do.

(this is my favorite argument)-good job on how you controled yourself. For starters I was a vollie before I was paid so BTDT. I would have (and have in the past) told folks that there are more volunteer firefighters in the united states than paid. 80% of the firefighting force (USFA) is volunteer. (on the paid side)-they see vollies as a detrament to their cause and I accept it as a part of them doing business. Volunteers have their place based on the structure and community needs and the paid have thieirs. Having been in a combination department I can say that we co existed in an atmosphere of MUTUAL RESPECT. What I knew as a volunteer when it came to dealing with the paid guys is you dont force them to choose between your sensabilities and theirs because they will allways choose whats best for them and their carrears and familys. As a paid guy, I never abused volunteers and made them to feel inferior but I did impose that WE were here to do a job and you will either do it or get out. have I run some off? yes. Why? Because they were more interested in riding the trucks and wearing the department jackets and t-shirts than they were learning to be a firefighter. I actually had a volunteer tell me once that his life was more valuable than mine "because" I was being PAID to be here, how do you think i handeled that one?


the bottom line is that volunteers provide a vital service and do a great job so do the paid and thats all that matters. i doubt that the person that dials 911 asks if the responding department is paid or volunteer.


i started as a vollie, i had a carrear as paid and now i'm a vollie again

(ok paid guys jump on me, i'm redy)

Seriously, volunteers are more dedicated than career firefighters?  Doesn't that completely contradict your first sentence?


You know why we can NEVER get a damn thing done in this country as a fire service?  We spend so much time fighting amongst ourselves over who is better, who is more dedicated, who is or isn't a firefighter.  What an absolute bunch of shit.  I am both a paid on call firefighter and a career firefighter and I can tell you that BOTH sides have great people, dedicated people, who ALWAYS go above and beyond for their department and citizens.  Sadly, BOTH sides also have people that seem only to want the rewards of being called a firefighter and NEVER do any more than they absolutely have to, if even that much.


If there is ever a topic that makes me want to vomit great big green chunks of putrid rotting food this is it.

No contradiction here Don. The first sentence focused on the generalities as to what we are called. The second point that unfortunately made you vomit big chunks is an observation that many firefighters seem to do the job for the money and time off. This is my personal observation for southern california departments only... I don't consider it out of line to say that many SoCal firefighters are part of the "ME" generation. 

There is a stark comparison with people I have met here on the FFN that get paid not one cent but continue to offer their communities exceptional fire protection that often time includes not just the firefighters and their families, but the entire community. I am embarrassed to share that this is not the norm. Folks just come and go to work these days. It's not like a family, which is the tradition that I envy for both the midwest and east coast departments. (Note: This should start to satisfy the opinion that I don't get East Coast tradition.)

I need to be careful how I write with you Don. You kind of take things very literal. Our experiences are obviously very different but the more I read what you say, they seem to be quite the same... It's all about communication I suppose. I will try to word things better to prevent you from going ballistic on me. Neither of us need the stress.

Maybe you need to visit what I consider God's country and chillax (chill + relax) with me. I make a mean marguerita, actually live inland about 14-miles and as stated before, I have a herd of cows in my backyard adjacent to ag land growing organic vegetables. You would feel right at home, assuming that you live in the country... But you know what they say about assuming anything... 

-Mike :D

People may do it in SoCal for the money, but that's not how it is out here on the East Coast.  We don't get paid like you guys.  I've applied for departments out there before getting hired in Washington, DC.  We are the third most expensive city in the country now behind NYC and San Francisco.  Yet, we start at half of what most SoCal departments start at.  Unfortunately out here, rookies can't even afford their own apartment on the starting salary.

ooooooo i wouldnt be able to keep my mouth shut if that were me. volly and paid only difference is one gets $$ in the pocket we still do same job, sghe sounds like a un suportive wife to me, devorce that bitch

I agree don't confront the woman but know regardless a firefighter is a firefighter and the best way I can relate this to.  Volunteers are unpaid, not because there worthless but because their priceless.


1.  having a value beyond all  price; invaluable: a priceless artwork.
2.  delightfully amusing or absurd: a priceless anecdote.


Being that I live in a metro area with most of the counties surrounding a major city that have combination systems of both career and volunteer personnel, a lot of volunteers are proud they are volunteers because many have taken required or extra classed to help themselves in the years that laws were enacted to impove the volunteer force in their counties because of many fire losses.

Much of this happen between the 70s up to today.

I think the what this lady had said may be something between a husband a wife. She see things her own way.

I know a member of my fire company whose wife has taken a dislike to the fire service over a statement made by a firefighter who tried to hit on her. She told the guy she was married to a firefighter and he said "I feel sorry for you". So now the situation between them is kind of rough because she tries to avoid anything involving  the fire dept. from dinners to attending a free trip and lodging for the state fire convention with the dept and it has put the guy into much stress because they also have a kid who is the middle of it all.

I remember when I got EMT with the Title of EMT A or EMT Ambulance which was basic training.

 Went on a call with my brother and his wife. Had a stroke patient and the wife was on the phone and called us paramedics. I guess everyone watch Emergency back then.

Back then our county had three career paramedic units  when it started the operations.

What makes getting a badge even more difficult is competing against folks who are CPA's... Have degree's in EHS, etc. 10 days a month paying over 100K per year is a lot of incentive for folks who really could care less. I'm not saying all of the folks are like that but a majority of the new hires the past 10 years have demonstrated some unfavorable traits and another barrier for someone who has the heart of a firefighter, not the wallet.

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